To get the most out of a law student internship, you will likely want to choose one that focuses on the type of law you want to pursue. If you want to become a bankruptcy lawyer, for example, you'll likely benefit most from interning with a firm that focuses on helping people or businesses through bankruptcies. If you want to become a trial lawyer, however, you may do better to find an internship that allows you to work with trial lawyers or even a judge. For experience with consumer, landlord-tenant, or family law, you might consider an internship with a law clinic. The timing of the internship may factor into your decision making as well.
When you are trying to find the best law student internships, one of the most important things to consider is the type of law you want to pursue. If you are planning to become a bankruptcy lawyer or specialize in libel cases, an internship with a family law firm may not benefit you as much. Ideally, your internship should provide a close look at the area of law in which you plan to practice. If you cannot find an internship in the specific area of law you plan to pursue, it's best to find one as closely related as possible so you can still gain benefit from it.
If you are hoping for the chance to learn about trial law firsthand, then you may benefit from seeking law student internships that will afford you the opportunity to work closely with trial lawyers. You may have another option in such a case, however — you could also seek judicial clerkship opportunities. In such a case, you will have the opportunity to assist a judge and observe the inner workings of the court system. Such experience may prove invaluable if you plan to become a trial lawyer or if you eventually want to become a judge.
You can typically gain experience with a variety of different types of cases when you seek law student internships with legal clinics. For example, you could gain experience with cases that involve common consumer problems as well as landlord-tenant disputes. You might also help with cases involving abuse, divorce, child custody, or visitation. You often can find these types of law student internships through your law school's legal clinic or through a clinic that offers free or low-cost legal assistance to people with low incomes.
The timing of law student internships may also factor into your decision-making process. Many of the internships you'll find will last for a summer. With such an internship, you can concentrate on your law school studies during the traditional school year and then focus all of your energies on learning through your summer internship. You don't have to be stuck with a summer internship if you prefer a lengthier opportunity, however, as some internships are intended to last for several months or an entire school year.